A few of my favorite TLAs

How GTD helped me learn a bit more about TDD.

June 26, 2017

Disclaimer: This post begins with lots of background about TDD but it’s actually more about GTD.

GTD and TDD are my favorite TLAs lately. You see, two years ago I read a tongue-in-cheek thread, in which Kent Beck (the creator of TDD!) mourned the loss of his cherished discipline in response to the pronouncement by DHH (another TLA) that “TDD is dead…”.

At the time I closely followed the dialog and was intrigued by one of the final comments on that thread, from none other than Robert “Uncle Bob” Martin who has long-championed the discipline of TDD. His comment concluded with a fill-in-the-blank word puzzle:

W__ in th___ ____t m___s w____ ___te _od_ w___o_t t___s?

After staring at the puzzle for several minutes I wasn’t able to solve it. This bothered me because I wanted to know what Uncle Bob’s final point was. I’ve attended 2 in-person training events by him because of my work at SmartyStreets and I’ve never been dissapointed by what he has to say. Now, I knew I could probably write a script to help me figure it out but I just wanted to solve it on my own. So, I made note of the thread and the puzzle in my list of “Someday/Maybe” projects and let myself move on. That was almost 2 years ago.

I happened to be going through that list today in an attempt to clean out the things that are now irrelevant or that have already happened. In doing so I came across my note to solve that simple puzzle. I decided to give it one more try. After re-reading Uncle Bob’s original comment, and in less than 10 seconds, it came to me! There’s nothing earth-shattering in the decoded message but believe me, it was very satisfying to arrive at the answer on my own terms, even if it’s almost been two years since my first having read that thread.

What’s the point? Well, it cost me almost nothing to park that little puzzle in my Someday/Maybe list to gather dust until I was ready to deal with it. The GTD framework gave me permission to hold onto that possibly irrelevant (or possibly important!) tidbit until a time when I would be ready to spend a few extra moments with the right frame of mind and untangle the knot. So, the next time you come across something that tugs at you but seems too small to worry too much about, consider adding it to your own Someday/Maybe list and see what opportunities the future brings.